MAINE ACTIVISTS SUBMIT MORE THAN 67,000 SIGNATURES TO ADVANCE NATION’S FIRST HOME CARE FOR ALL CAMPAIGN
AUGUSTA, ME (January 26, 2018) — Seniors, care workers, and families gathered at the State House in Augusta today to announce that they have hit their signature goal, submitting more than 67,000 signatures to Maine’s Secretary of State to place a citizen initiative on the November ballot guaranteeing access to in-home care.
“We all know the problem. In our rapidly-aging state, too many seniors are being forced from their homes and too many people with disabilities can’t get the care they need,” said Miri Lyons of Boothbay Harbor, a former homecare worker and a family caregiver for a child with a disability. “Homecare for all will fix that. It’s a guarantee that if you need help staying in your home, you can get it.”
Over the last several months, hundreds of volunteers collected signatures for the measure across the state at polling places, post offices, coffee shops and parking lots, often braving freezing temperatures to connect with voters who cast ballots in the last election. 61,123 valid signatures are required to place a citizen initiative on the ballot.
The initiative also covers veterans, many of whom are, surprisingly, not covered by existing home care programs. “Veterans who need long-term help are frequently sent to facilities, often far away from their families,” said Skip Worcester, a U.S. Army veteran from Harmon. “That’s just wrong. The least we can do is make sure those who fought for our country can live with freedom and independence in their own homes.”
In addition to guaranteeing home care is available for any senior or Mainer with a disability who needs assistance with an activity of daily living, regardless of their family situation or income level, the ballot measure also includes measures to assist family caregivers and make homecare a more attractive career, including higher wages and greater professionalization.
“I work full time and make eleven dollars and fifty cents an hour. Starting pay at my company is minimum wage. I rely on food stamps and Section Eight to keep my son fed and housed,” said Maddie Hart, a home care worker from Auburn. “My work is challenging, dangerous, and skilled. Homecare workers deserve to be paid enough to support our families. This referendum will help get us there.”
The measure is paid for by partially closing a payroll and unearned income tax loophole on income in excess of $127,000 a year.
Once signatures are validated by the office of Maine’s Secretary of State, the initiative will go before the legislature, where they may choose to adopt it as law or send it to a public vote.
Janet Kim, Communications Director at Caring Across Generations, said: “We’re inspired by the enthusiasm that Mainers have for this bill, and that this same spirit is being echoed across the country as momentum builds for a care infrastructure that works for seniors, family caregivers, and care workers. Today, 67,000 Mainers are saying loud and clear that care can no longer be a burden shouldered alone, and that we have a collective responsibility to help each other live and age with dignity.”